At age four, Reddy joined her parents on the Australian vaudeville circuit, singing and dancing; she recalled: "It was instilled in me: 'You will be a star'. So between the ages of 12 and 17, I got rebellious and decided this was not for me. I was going to be a housewife and mother. " At age 12, due to her parents' constant touring nationwide and their arguing, Reddy went to live with her paternal aunt, Helen "Nell" Reddy, ". . . who was her role model," and as her aunt, "she gave her niece stability, a sense of morality, and strength" for her future career as a singer who motivated women. The younger Helen's teenaged rebellion in favour of domesticity manifested as marriage to Kenneth Claude Weate, a considerably older musician and family friend; divorce ensued, and to support herself as a single mother to daughter Traci, she resumed her performing career, concentrating on singing, since health problems precluded dancing (she had a kidney removed at 17). She sang on radio and television, eventually winning a talent contest on the Australian pop music TV show Bandstand, the prize ostensibly being a trip to New York City to cut a single for Mercury Records. After arriving in New York in 1966, she was informed by Mercury that her prize was only the chance to "audition" for the label and that Mercury considered the Bandstand footage to constitute her audition, which was deemed unsuccessful. Despite having only US$200 (equivalent to $1,576 in 2019) and a return ticket to Australia, she decided to remain in the United States with 3-year-old Traci and pursue a singing career.